There is something looming over Here Are the Young Men for its entirety, another British film deemed a classic that also depicts the drug-fuelled escapades of a group of young friends. That film would be Trainspotting, Danny Boyle's 1996 stroke of genius that is hard to shake off the mind still to this day. It's a very easy comparison to make but thankfully, Here Are the Young Men does more than enough to warrant not having to live in the other's shadow.

Dublin teenagers Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman), nihilistic Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), and the deranged Kearney (Finn Cole), leave school to a social vacuum of drinking and drugs, falling into shocking acts of transgression.

Here Are the Young Men isn't a film for the faint-hearted, its depiction of relentless drug abuse a lot to take in, let alone the fallout from it all that includes trigger warnings for topics such as suicide and sexual assault. It's an assault on the senses with some trippy visuals and incredibly obscure sequences that mess with your head early on, particularly Matthew's inability to get Kearney out of his head at times.

Everything just seems to be heading on a downward spiral that the film most definitely hints at right from the very beginning so it is one of those films where you can telegraph what is going to happen but it's fascinating to see exactly how it all works its way to that point. I have to give a shoutout to Ryan Potesta for his score for the film that may seem a little jarring at points but really does suit the chaotic nature of the narrative.

Here Are the Young Men has a handful of bright young talent at its disposal and every single one of them delivers with respective performances that make this one of the most exciting ensembles this year. Dean-Charles Chapman is the one torn between loyalty to his best friend Kearney and trying to start a relationship with Anya Taylor-Joy's Jen, the pair working well together as a young couple trying to work out in the midst of lifestyle choices that certainly threaten to get in the way. Finn Cole is the MVP of the film with his unhinged and afflicting performance as Kearney, the dark side always threatening to make an appearance at any given moment.

It's a cautionary tale of how living a life of excess can come back to haunt you, given an injection of energy by Eoin Macken's screenplay and a young cast who prove they're sure to be names you'll hear a lot more of in the future.

Verdict: ★★★★


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